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Targeting Watersheds for Restoration

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has selectively targeted the most restorable watersheds in Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay watershed for concentrated, timely restoration efforts. A watershed is an area of land where all the water (surface and groundwater) flows to the lowest point – usually a stream, lake or river. These watersheds are determined by DEP’s 2014 Regional Agricultural Watershed Assessment Program Initiative, and 2020 Integrated Water Quality Report (303(d) list). The Integrated Water Quality Report is the result of an ongoing DEP program to assess the quality of surface waters in PA and identify streams and bodies of water that are not attaining protected uses as “impaired.”

DEP focuses state and federal funding and special attention on these targeted watersheds in an effort to restore clean water in a timely manner, usually ten years, by utilizing a holistic approach to address all of the pollution sources in the entire watershed at once.

Social science and ecology are merged to identify the factors used to target watersheds for restoration. These factors include the value to the public as well as to the ecosystem while also visualizing restorability as outlined below:

  • Willingness of private landowners to participate in voluntary BMP implementation
  • Active watershed association with high public interest
  • Ability of the local community to operate and maintain BMPs
  • Strength of local water quality monitoring
  • Fisheries enhancement and public recreation
  • Presence of public water supply recharge areas for drinking water
  • Investment and collaboration with federal, state, and municipal partners, and universities
  • Identified as a high impact watershed for nutrient and sediment load reductions to the Chesapeake Bay
  • Presence of threatened and/or endangered species
  • High amount of existing riparian forestation and headwater protection
    Existing floodplain connectivity and wetlands
  • Watershed size and complexity of impairment; the smaller and less impaired, the faster restoration can be achieved

Click on the map below to see highlights of the water quality improvement projects that have received funding support from Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 program, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant funds.  For more information on these funding programs and watershed restoration support please go to the Watershed Support Section pages for more resources.

For general assistance with this map, or to learn more about the programs and projects listed on the map, please contact the Division of Water Quality Standards at 717-787-9637, or send email to


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